Head of research: Beatrice Beck Schimmer, MD

Current projects:

Carbon-coated nano magnets: the in-vivo life sycle.
Project supported by the Schweizerischen Nationalfonds NFP64: Chancen und Risiken von Nanomaterialien.
SNSF 406440-131268

Abstract: Magnetic carbon coated nanoparticles are ultra-strong metal particles. Their high specific surface area allows reliable large-quantity linking of functional groups such as antibodies or chelators. Through this functionalization the nanomagnets specifically bind toxins or metals in the blood, which are successfully eliminated with the help of a magnet. Chances and risks of promising future applications with such nanoparticles were evaluated.

Chances: First in vitro experiments were performed with antibody-coated nanomagnets to see if the according antigens bind to the particles, followed by magnet-induced extraction out of the blood.  Furthermore, with the design of an extracorporeal blood purification system the possibility of targeting molecule isolation in a detoxification procedure such as drug overdose or misbalance in inflammatory mediators was addressed. We found that not only in vitro, but also in vivo, the newly designed blood purification system was highly efficient, successfully eliminating small or large molecules.

Risks: A careful evaluation was performed assessing possible interactions of magnetic nanoparticles with blood (plasma and cells). Coagulation was not impaired in a clinically relevant way. Also, no inflammatory reactions or toxicity in the blood were found.

Therefore, these finding lay the ground to bringing this promising new technology to clinical application.


Herrmann IK, Urner M, Graf S, Schumacher CH, Roth-Z'graggen B, Hasler M, Stark WJ, Beck-Schimmer B
Endotoxin removal by magnetic separation-based blood purification
Adv Healthc Mater, 2012; 2(6):829-35

Bircher L, Theusinger OM, Locher S, Eugster P, Roth-Z'graggen B, Schumacher CM, Studt JD, Stark WJ, Beck-Schimmer B, Herrmann IK
Characterization of carbon-coated magnetic nanoparticles using clinical blood coagulation assays: Effect of PEG-functionalization and comparison to silica nanoparticles
J Mater Chem B, 2014; 2:3753-8


2. Carbon-coated nano magnets: more possibilities

SNSF 406440-131268, Verlängerung

A further step within this topic is to bring all the preclinical findings into clinical trials to evaluate the possibility to use nanomagnet in the far future for protein removal out of the blood.